The examination of Witness P588 began on Wednesday, December 7, at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bakayoko Kaladjy was asked to talk about the death of his brother on December 16, 2010, during the march on the RTI. But Laurent Gbagbo’s defense questioned the date of this death.
The witness was called by the prosecution to speak about the events of December 16, 2010. As his written testimony was accepted by the judges, Bakayoko Kaladjy did not have to go into details on the facts. He only told the court that his brother, a Rally of Republicans (RDR) activist, was reported missing on the day of the march on the RTI. His body was allegedly only found later, at the Anyama mortuary.
Before returning to this subject, Laurent Gbagbo’s defense dealt with another topic: the events at Anonkoua Kouté during the post-election crisis. The witness, who at the time owned a carpentry business in Anonkoua, denied hearing of a massacre of Ebriés in the village on March 6, 2011, even after seeing a video showing the victims’ testimonies. “I never knew about that,” the young man hammered.
The Invisible Commando “kidnapped people”
On the contrary, he stated that the young Ebriés were quick to use violence. According to the witness’s testimony, at the time of the election, they went out in arms in order to attend meetings. Even though the “elders” of the community tried to appease things, “the youths did not listen to them.” Bakayoko Kaladjy thus mentioned an attack carried out in 2011 by the Ebriés in his district of Agripac. They had allegedly come to “kill people”, which forced the witness to leave his home.
Asked about the Invisible Commando, the witness remained rather vague. He talked of people who “kidnapped people…found dead” afterwards. However, according to him, the victims of these abuses were pro-Ouattara. Bakayoko Kaladjy denied seeing any rebels or members of the Invisible Commando around Anonkoua during the post-election crisis.
The description of the premises does not correspond, according to the defense
At the end of the day, Gbagbo’s defense finally returned on December 16, 2010. On D-Day, while sitting on a bench in the neighborhood, the witness saw his brother leave for the march, before he spotted the FDS (Defense and Security Forces) taking up positions on the road to Abobo Station. The uniformed men reportedly threw tear gas in the direction of “hundreds of walkers.” Then they “fired live bullets at the crowd.”
Using a video screenshot, the defense asked the witness to identify each of the places he had spoken of. The public did not have access to the images, which made the exchange between the lawyer and the witness hard to follow. But at all events, the defense obviously got what they wanted and presented their conclusion: If the witness was near the railway, how could he have seen what was going on at the crossroads, located higher up? “I was moving,” retorted Bakayoko Kaladjy.
Before the hearing was adjourned, Gbagbo’s lawyer became interested in the date of the death of the witness’s brother. If he had really been killed during the march on the RTI, why does the date of May 2011 appear on his death certificate, Andreas O’Shea wanted to know.
Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and other inhumane acts, or – in the alternative – attempted murder and persecution. The accused allegedly committed these crimes during post-electoral violence in Côte d’Ivoire between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011.
This summary comes from Ivoire Justice, a project of Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), which offers monitoring and commentary on the ICC’s proceedings arising from the post-election violence that occurred in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010-2011. It has been translated into English for use on International Justice Monitor.